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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

288                                  JLIFE   OF
late. He also contributed to the " Allgemeine Litera-
tur ZeituTLg** of Jena, which was at that time the first
critical paper in Germany. The young "Woltmann,
too, was talented enough to interest Humboldt, but
he treated him always with a certain irony, and did
not regard Mm as perfect in any of the numerous
branches in which he pretended to excel. It was
soon discovered that he was. In history, an imitator of
Schiller, though by no means an unskilful one. As
an cesthetician, Humboldt considers him weak ; as a
critic, insufficient, affected, and poor in ideas ; as a
poet, intolerable; and in his chair as lecturer on the
sources of history, he spoke of the ancients with
modern self-sufficiency.
Humboldt's acquaintance with Fichte and Nie-
thammer was more satisfactory, and they invited
Humboldt to contribute to their philosophical jour-
nal, though it does not appear that he did so. Both
Schiller and Humboldt seem to have cultivated
Fichte^s acquaintance, although Humboldt seems to
have had more respect for the great thinker, and to
have been on better terms with him than Schiller.
It would seem, from all contemporary testimony, that
Fichte, this noble and great man, was extremely
quarrelsome and obstinate, and self-willed to eccen-
tricity.
A more intimate friendship seems to have sub-
sisted between Humboldt and Ilgen, the subsequently
celebrated rector of Schulpforte. With him he con-
versed on languages and antiquity, and on the philo-
sophy of language. Ilgen was also an agreeable com-
panion, and liked to see his friends in his house ; from
his wife we know something of the exterior appear-
ance of the great minds of that day. The outward
elegance of these great men was, with the exception
of Woltmann aaid Goethe, very questionable. Hum-
boldt wasT however, very careful of his dress, and
whenever the men,~kfter dinner, left the room to take
coffee and to smoke, he retired to change his coat, be-
cause he wished to save his dress-coat from Ilgen^s